WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama has decided not to press Israel to give international monitors access to its nuclear weapons, the Washington Times reported Saturday.
Three officials told the Washington Times that during their meting in May Obama gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu guarantees that he will keep a four-decade-old secret understanding between the US and Israel over its nuclear program and won't pressure the Jewish state to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Israeli expert Avner Cohen told the American newspaper that under the agreement the US passively accepts Israel's nuclear weapons status as long as Israel does not unveil publicly its capability or test a weapon.
According to foreign publications, Israel's nuclear arsenal consists of hundreds of bombs.
Israel feared that Obama, who has made nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament one of his key initiatives, would not uphold the agreement, which was reached in 1969 between then-US President Richard Nixon and former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir.
The Washington Times report said Netanyahu asked Obama to reaffirm the agreement due to fears that during its negotiations with the six world powers over its uranium enrichment program Iran may demand the exposure of Israel's nuclear arsenal.
It is not clear whether Iran had in fact made such a demand during Thursday's talks between its chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and US Under Secretary of State William Burns in Geneva.